Amazon class action lawsuit goes after company for customer tracking practices

Amazon is being sued for allegedly not telling New York City Amazon Go shoppers that it collects their biometric identifier information.

The stores use cameras, sensors and palm-scanning devices to track customers so they can walk in, pick up their items and walk out without waiting in line to pay a cashier. The charges are sent directly to their Amazon accounts.

The lawsuit argues that Amazon’s stores fail to comply with a 2021 New York City law that says retailers must notify their customers when they collect biometric identifying information. This includes face scans, fingerprints or "any identifying characteristic" like the shape of a person’s body.

A sign is seen outside of an Amazon Go store at the Inc. headquarters on May 20, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.
A sign is seen outside of an Amazon Go store at the Inc. headquarters on May 20, 2021 in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon says it does not use facial recognition and collects biometric data only from shoppers who choose to enter the store with palm-scanning devices. Customers also have the option to enter by scanning a credit card linked to their Amazon account or a code in the Amazon app.

“The customer is always in control of when they choose to be identified using their palm,” Amazon’s statement reads. Shoppers who enter with a palm scan “are provided the appropriate privacy disclosures during the enrollment process.”

Why is Amazon being sued?

The class action lawsuit was filed Thursday by lawyers for Alfredo Alberto Rodriguez Perez, a New York resident and Amazon customer who “values his privacy,” according to the lawsuit.

Rodriguez Perez argues that the stores collect, convert, retain and store biometric identifier information on all Amazon Go shoppers in New York City but have failed to post signs notifying customers before they enter.

The lawsuit acknowledges that Amazon did post signs near store entrances in mid-March but claims the signs are misleading because they say Amazon collects biometric information from palm scans only.

The lawsuit claims Amazon Go stores collect biometric information – such as a body's size and shape – even when a customer does not use the palm scanner.

“By posting these signs, Amazon’s compliance with the Biometric Identifier Information Law has gone from bad to worse,” the lawsuit reads. “Amazon is now affirmatively offering false assurances that it will not collect any biometric information from most customers.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lawsuit against Amazon claims customer info collected without consent